Lankan Lions Stunned the Cricket World -1996 World Cup
The success of South Asian neighbors India (1987) and Pakistan (1996) spurred Sri Lanka for innovating new conceptsfor success. The Sri Lankans, managed by Dav Whatmore and marshalled by Arjuna Ranatunga, utilized magical Sanath Jayasuriya and hard hitting Romesh Kaluwitharana as opening batsmen for exploiting the fielding restrictions during the first 15 overs of each innings. Scoring 50 or 60 runs at that time in the first 15 overs was considered good enough , Sri Lanka consistently scored 117 runs in those overs against India, 123 against Kenya, 121 against England in the quarter-final and 86 against India in the semi-final. Against Kenya, Sri Lanka made 398 for 5, a new record for the highest team score in a One Day International that stood until April 2006. Sri Lanka went on winning the tournament beating Australia in the final at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan. The1996 Cricket World Cup, also called the Wills World Cup after its official sponsors, ITC‘s Wills brand, was the sixth Cricket World Cup, organized by the International Cricket Council (ICC). It was the second World Cup to be hosted by Pakistan and India and for the first time by Sri Lanka. This world cup will be remembered for few reasons like politics playing a role in Australia and West Indies refusing sending teams to Sri Lanka despite the hosts making all arrangements for bubble tight security,hurricane hitting of Sri Lankan opening pair Jayasurya and Kaluwitharana, crowd interference bringing shame to Eden Garden reputation and third Asian country bringing glory to their respective country .After Kapil Dev and Imran Khan strong leadership of Arjuna Ranatunga glorified his team. If four prong pace attack of West Indies in 1975 and 1979 made them invincible, four prong spin attack made Sri Lanka head and shoulder above the rest.
The Wills World Cup was played in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Controversy dogged the tournament before any games were played; Australia and the West Indies refused to send their teams to Sri Lanka following the Central Bank bombing by the Tamil Tigers in January 1996. Sri Lanka, in addition to offering maximum security to the teams, questioned the validity of citing security concerns when the International Cricket Council had determined it was safe. After extensive negotiations, the ICC ruled that Sri Lanka would be awarded both games on forfeit. As a result of this decision, Sri Lanka automatically qualified for the quarter-finals before playing a game.
The Sri Lankans, coached by Dav Whatmore and captained by Arjuna Ranatunga, used Man of the Series Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana as opening batsmen to take advantage of the fielding restrictions during the first 15 overs of each innings. At a time when 50 or 60 runs in the first 15 overs was considered adequate, Sri Lanka scored 117 runs in those overs against India, 123 against Kenya, 121 against England in the quarter-final and 86 against India in the semi-final. Against Kenya, Sri Lanka made 398 for 5, a new record for the highest team score in a One Day International that stood until April 2006.
Zimbabwe joined eight full member countries of ICC after their strong performance in World Cup 1992 Three other associate teams ,Kenya,UAE and Netherlands qualifying through 1994 ICC trophy also joined the world cup.
Group A: Australia, Sri Lanka, India, West Indies, Zimbabwe and Kenya, Group B:South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand, England, UAE and Netherlands
Group A.: Points Table:
Australia and West Indies conceded defeats to host Sri Lanka refusing to send teams to ethnic violence impacted Sri Lanka though Sri Lankan government gave all assurance for safety and ICC approved.
Group B Points Table:
Q1: Played between England and Sri Lanka at Faisalabad, Pakistan.
Sri Lanka 236/5 ( ST Jayasurya 82, AP Gurusinha 45 , PA de Silva 31 ) beat England 235/8 ( PAJ Defreitas 67,DAReeve 35 , HPDK Dharmasena 2/30, M Muralitharan 2/37 , ST Jayasurya 2/ 46) by 5 Wickets
India 287/8 ( NS Sidhu 93 ,A Jadeja 45 , Mustaq Ahmed 2/46, Waqar Yunus 2/57 ) beat Pakistan 248/9 ( Aamer Sohail 55, Saeed Anwar 48, Saleem Malik 38, Javed Miandad 38, BKB Prasad 3/45, A Kumble 3/48) by 39 runs.
West Indies 264/8( Brain Lara 111, S Chadarpaul 56, BM Mcmillan 2/37, PR Adams 2/ 45, PL Symcox 2/64) beat South Africa 245 All Out (DJ Cullinan 69, AC Hudson 54, WJ Cronje 40, RA Harper 4/47, JC Adams 3/53) by 19 runs
Australia 289/4 (ME Waugh 110, SR Waugh 59*, SG Law 42*) beat New Zealand by 286/9 (CZ Harris 130, L Germon 89, GD Mcgrath 2/50, SK Warne 2/50) by 6 wickets.
Sri Lanka 251/8 (PA de Silva 66, RS Mahanama 58 , A Ranatunga 35 , J Srinath 3/54 , SR Tendulkar 2/34) beat India 120/8 ( SR Tendulkar 65 , SV Manjrekar 25, ST Jayasurya 3/12 )Sri Lanka won by default as no game was possible for crowd invasion at a certain statge.
The match ended in a controversial manner when Sri Lanka was on way to a very comfortable victory.
At the fall of the 8th Indian wicket, sections of the crowd vented their disgust with the state of the match by setting fire to some areas of the stands and throwing fruit and water bottles onto the field. The match was briefly stopped and when play was about to resume, the crowd again threw bottles at the deep fielders. The match referee stopped the game and the game was awarded to Sri Lanka by default.
Australia 207 /8 ( SG Law 72, MG Bevan 69, CEL Ambrose 2/ 26, IR Bishop 2/ 35) beat West Indies 202 All out ( SC Chanderpaul 89, RV Richardson 49, BC Lara 45 , SK Warne 4/36 , GD Mcgarth 2/30, DW Fleming 2/48) by 5 runs.
It was one of the closest matches ever seen in World cup which could go either way. This was the best West Indian performance after their first three appearances in World Cup Cricket .Strong bowling by Caribbean pacers kept Australian score modest. Stewart Law and M Bevan .At one stage the Australians were 4/15.Law and Bevan added 138 for the 5th wicket partnership presenting their bowlers something to bowl at. Top and middle order of West Indies batted well and West Indies was cruising at 5/178 when a dramatic collapse saw them losing 5 wickets for 24 runs .Australia advanced to the finals beating them by 5 runs.
Final: Played at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore on 17 March,1996.
Sri Lanka 245/3 (PA de Silva 107*, A Ranatunga 47*) beat Australia 241/7 (MA Taylor 74, RT Ponting 45, M Bevan 36*) by 7 wickets.
It was justice done to Sri Lanka for their wonderfully aggressive cricket they played throughout their tournament .A few could dispute them walking into quarter finals partly due to forfeitures of two group matches against Australia and West Indies refusing to travel to Sri Lanka after the ethnic violences .But their innovation of the dynamic brand of positive cricket added new dimensions of power cricket .Sanath Jayasurya and Kalu were excellent throughout though they failed in the finals when amazing de Silva played a wonderful innings and of all smart captain Ranatunga was his partner in progress when the victory came their way . Cricket brought joy to a land perspiring for peace and tranquility. Putting into bat Australia was looking good at 3/ 156 from smart batting of skipper Taylor and Ponting .But quality spin bowling of the four prong Sri Lankans stifled the Aussie middle order till yet another finish by Bevan gave the score some respectability. In response Sri Lanka started disastrously losing the openers early . At 2 /23 they were not looking good. But Aravinda de Silva and Ranatunga not only salvaged the innings but roared into victory path through scintillating batting display. World Cup witnessed another great player presenting a top quality innings in the final. Sri Lanka was worthy winner.